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Excela Health teamwork leads to patient portal success

Excela Health (Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.) prioritizes a positive patient experience. Combining teamwork with its patient-centric philosophy helped the organization succeed with Allscripts FollowMyHealth® patient engagement platform, branded ExcelaHealth.Me.

Since launching the portal in January 2014, Excela Health has enrolled 20,000 patients and adds more than 1,500 new accounts each month. It has also exceeded the Meaningful Use requirement for more than 5% utilization – in both inpatient and outpatient settings – helping claim about $3 million in incentive funding.

It takes a team to succeed

“Your first step is to embrace the fact that patient portal deployment and utilization are communication challenges, not IT problems,” Excela Health Manager of Communications and Digital Media Jaime Crawford said. “It really does take a team.”

Excela Health engaged the senior leaders first and launched a governance structure that involved all parts of the organization. The team took a phased approach to enrollment:

Phase 1 – Start with employees. Excela Health has 4,600 employees, many are also patients. By starting with enrolling employees, it also created ambassadors for the portal. Employee events, emailed invitations and contests helped deliver the message and encourage adoption.

Excela Health, FollowMyHealth patient portal

A screensaver reminds Excela Health employees the importance of Meaningful Use, including meeting the patient engagement measures.

Phase 2 – Expand into the inpatient environment. Excela Health included portal flyers in every admission packet and nurses reviewed the flyer again with patients during discharge.  Excela Health created “Passport to your health” events for recently discharged patients, where they can give feedback, sign up for the portal and learn about additional services.

Phase 3 – “Big-bang” roll out to all ambulatory sites. Excela Health rolled out the portal to all 70 locations at the same time. Successful components of the campaign included physician-to-physician communication, reminder cards for physicians to hand to patients, and a required step-by-step training video for employees enrolling patients. Excela Health acknowledges that there are too many different workflows to standardize the approach across all sites, and it’s important to personalize.

“The senior leadership team recognizes that successful patient portal enrollment is a front-office staff issue, a marketing issue, an IT issue – it’s everyone’s issue,” Director of Primary Care Eric Schwab said. “You have to uphold the value of teamwork…There’s no ‘I’ in ExcelaHealth.Me.”

To learn more about how FollowMyHealth can help improve patient engagement for your organization, visit our website.

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